Here's Why There Are No Female Witchers

Many fans of Netflix's "The Witcher" TV series have noticed a distinct lack of women Witchers. If you're one of them, perhaps you've wondered whether this is an intentional exclusion, a coincidence, or something more complex? Maybe you find yourself scouring Google in an effort to see if there's really any good reason why men and women don't appear to stand equal chances of becoming magical superhuman monster-slaying badasses. 

There is actually a canon reason for Kaer Morhen's distinct lack of female Witchers, but you may not find it satisfactory.

Few Survive the Trials

So why are there no lady Witchers? The answer lies in the brutal trials that potential Witcher candidates must pass in order to actually become Witchers. The first of these tests is the Trial of the Grasses, which involves injecting an alchemical mixture into the veins of Witcher hopefuls. This mixture is designed to modify the physiology of the candidates, making them more resilient and better suited to face the monsters they'll encounter as Witchers. While this doesn't sound so bad on the surface, the effect that the mixture has on the bodies and minds of those injected is so severe that very few are even able to survive the process at all. 

The physical and psychological side effects of the mixture include intense pain, temporary madness, fevers, vomiting, and a number of other unpleasantries that take place over a seven-day period. This can be seen in a description of one child undergoing the Trial of the Grasses in the first of the novels that "The Witcher" series is based on.

"For two days more did symptoms not subside. The child's skin, hitherto drenched in sweat, grew dry and hot, the pulse ceased to be full and firm — albeit remaining of average strength, slow rather than fast. No more did he wake, nor did he scream. Finally, came the seventh day. The male awoke and opened his eyes, and his eyes were those of a viper..."

Most prospects undergoing the Trial of the Grasses perish by the third day, and as few as 30% are able to make it through the entire week-long endeavor. That would be more than enough to take out even the heartiest of adults, so the fact that the Witcher trainees undergo this process as mere children makes it all the more grim and greatly decreases chances of survival. Those who do manage to survive the Trial of the Grasses are physically transformed, as their resilience in enduring the intensity of the trial results in the superhuman traits associated with Witchers: quicker reflexes, slowed aging, and heightened senses. After this, there are even more trials to overcome before they are finally fully-fledged Witchers. 

Due to the extremely taxing nature of the trials, the majority of individuals die before they can even complete the Trial of the Grasses, regardless of gender. The aforementioned 30% that are able to withstand this initial trial are always boys; no girls have been able to do so, though there have been attempts. Why? Well, there's no particularly good reason aside from the unfortunate implication that men are naturally stronger and thus have a higher chance of survival than women. That's just how it was written. While it's not a great explanation, it's the one we've been given thus far.

Isn't That Kinda Sexist?

Well, yeah. There's no way around the fact that it's sexist. Does that automatically mean there was any malice or ill-intent on the part of Andrzej Sapkowski, the author who wrote the novels that the "The Witcher" TV series is based on? Not necessarily, but it's ok to point out that certain aspects of the media we consume don't look good or didn't age well, even if we enjoy the work as a whole. 

The implication that women are inherently weaker or more biologically predisposed to failing the Trials comes off as misogynist, regardless of intent. Even if "The Witcher" and the trials themselves weren't a fantasy concoction, physical strength differences between girls and boys are minimal before puberty, so statistically you'd expect at least some girls to make it through. That doesn't mean we have to the throw the baby out with the Henry Cavill-infused bathwater; we can still enjoy "The Witcher" while examining and critiquing the less than stellar aspects of it because critical thinking is super cool, and accepting everything at face value without further investigation or analysis is the opposite of cool.

That said, is there a chance we'll see a woman Witcher in season 2? You can find out right now, since "The Witcher" season 2 is currently streaming over on Netflix.